The Detroit Lions are counting on internal growth in order to improve on last season's 10-6 record.
One player capable of helping the Lions take a leap forward by leaping forward himself is linebacker DeAndre Levy.
Levy is entering his fourth season in the NFL – all with the Lions – and has played both outside and inside linebacker.
During that time, he has also been paired with several different running mates as the linebacker corps has gone through significant turnover since his rookie season.
All of that inconsistency can have negative impacts on a young player's development. So, the consistency offered by remaining in the same position as well as continuity within the linebacker unit is a welcomed change for the 25 year old.
So, with consistency, how has Levy looked?
"Levy's come on," said defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. "He's probably looked better in this camp than any time I've been here."
The improved play is a testament to Levy's comfort level.
"I feel really comfortable right now," said Levy. "I have some carry over with the guys next to me and it's a big step for us this year as a team and as a unit to keep a good thing going and try to improve on it. That's the mind set right now."
Missing the Missile
Safety Louis Delmas has missed nearly a week of training camp practice with lingering knee soreness.
There has been no official release of any injury information regarding Delmas but anytime number 26 is missing from the field it is noticeable.
Despite a somewhat misleading stat line, with only two career interceptions (both during his rookie campaign), Delmas is an invaluable member of the defense.
"He's definitely the real deal," said veteran safety Eric Coleman. "He plays with a lot of energy. He's lively. He brings the level of play of the guys around him up. He's a great leader. I have had the opportunity to play with a lot of great safeties; Lawyer Milloy, Reggie Tongue back in the day. Some really good players and Louis is right up there with those guys. If he can continue to play at the level he plays at, he'll have a great career."
Despite his absence on the field, he is still making a contribution. After team-scrimmage plays in training camp, it is not uncommon to see Delmas pull aside a young player – such as Bill Bentley or Ricardo Silva – and give them advice.
Delmas is also ensuring he remains completely in sync with the defense.
"He's my shadow and every time I turn, he's next to me," said Cunningham. "He's getting a feel for how I call things and it's really beneficial for him, he stays in the game while he's doing that."
It is unclear if Delmas will get much – if any – playing time during the preseason but he is expected to be a key contributor during the regular season.